Taking cognisance of the distress caused to litigants and parties involved in cases registered for hearings at the supreme court of India, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has issued a circular demanding all the lawyers practising at the apex court to cancel their summer vacation and be present to work during that period.
According to the circular, the president of the SCBA, Dushyant A DAVE, has asked all the lawyers to be present for work during the period of May 16, 2020, to July 5, 2020, the scheduled summer vacation period for the current year.
The SCBA said that in order to make good the loss of court working days between March 15 and April 30, 2020, the lawyers should make themselves available during the aforementioned period i.e. May 16, 2020, to July 5, 2020. The apex court was not functioning at its full capacity during that time due to the nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Dave also requested the chief justice of India and other senior judges to declare the cancellation of summer vacations for lawyers and judges in the largest interest of litigants.
In view of major lockdown across the country, many offices and organisations have been ordered to shut down to restrict people-to-people contact to curb the spread of coronavirus that has so far infected more than 7000 and killed over 200 people in India as of on Saturday, April 11.
The sudden imperative measure taken to control the pandemic has adversely affected all sections of the society including people with cases pending for hearings in the court.
As the first phase of the lockdown is going to complete on April 14, the government has planned to extend the lockdown on the recommendations of various states governments. The government hopes to keep the number of infection down by extending the lockdown and meanwhile find a feasible solution to control the pandemic.
The government is taking drastic measures to contain the disease from spreading and has planned to release 1.7 crore worth of stimulus package to aid in getting medical equipments and test kits, etc.
Aligning its mode of functioning with lockdown guidelines issued by the government, the SCBA said that unless normal functioning of the court is not resumed, the facility of live video conferencing would be made available. The court would use similar services as provided to the Council of Ministers and other officials of the Government.
However, the SCBA made the condition clear under which live video- streaming of the court proceedings would be telecast. As per the directive, the service would be available only if all contesting lawyers, instructing advocates and litigants can simultaneously access the video-conferenced proceedings on par with practices normally applied in an open courtroom.